Over the last few months, we’ve been working hard in the studio reviewing and perfecting our garment fits and sizing. It’s part of our commitment to ensuring every Obus garment is a beautifully-fitting, consciously tailored treasure that you will love for years to come!
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Refitting and amending our garment styles is a substantial task, especially for our small team. Sadly it’s not as easy as deciding to add another size option to the website! It’s been a truly collaborative effort reviewing customer feedback, making design refinements, grading new patterns, working with our local makers, and documenting sizing information in an accessible way on our website.
But we think you’ll agree the end result is worth it. With so many styles now fitting true to size, you can feel confident when you ‘add to cart’ that the size you’ve chosen will look great first go! Simply align your own body measurements to our Size Guide and review the garment measurements in its product description. This will help you determine the best size to choose for your body shape.
You can now shop size 5!
By popular demand, we’ve added Size 5 to many of our Between Wind and Water collection styles. As we continue to amend and refit our designs, we aim to offer size 5s consistently in all future collections. It will be a gradual process, but we’d love your feedback!
Where do you begin when you receive a commission like this?
All things start with colour for me, so I usually work with the client to develop a palette and then create a suite of hand painted designs, yarn and fibre options and woven samples so they can see how their idea will translate into a hand woven textile.
I've been pretty lucky as most of my commissions have involved clients already familiar with my work coming to me to develop something in my style. Design briefs usually take the form of, "here's a colour palette/interior/collection, can you make us something that will work with this?", which is brilliant because I can take cues from the colours, location, architecture, furniture, surfaces, or scale presented to me and just create.
This project was an absolute dream because I love Obus designs and Kylie's colour palettes are always amazing so I had a million ideas, it was just a matter of refining them into a final design that matched the location.
Initial sketches inspired by Obus' colour palette and LOVE OBUS collection motifs
What garments in the current Obus collection were you drawn to when conceiving of your piece?
The Wild Ones Pullover in Cinnamon/Lilac and Wild Ones Jumpsuit in Midnight/Musk immediately caught my eye - mostly cause I'm a sucker for a horse print, but I also gravitated to the Reawaken Pant and Unison Shirt in Lilac. The colours, proportions, and details all lent themselves to the kind of bold graphic work I like to weave.
How long does it take to create a piece like this, and what tools and materials are involved?
Hand weaving is definitely not a process for people who like instant gratification!
Before you actually start the fabric there's the process of selecting yarns that will hold up to the process of weaving under tension, and sometime the yarn you want won't work. There's a lot of compromise, lateral thinking and maths required to work through how you'll translate a bunch of yarn into a solid fabric and then an equally long process of setting up and threading the loom ready to weave.
This project required four individually woven panels, each with a different warp / weft pattern and a variety of different yarns in cotton, silk, and merino wool. All up it took around three weeks rom start to finish, with all of the pieces woven on a really simple two shaft table top loom. There is quite a bit of specialist equipment required with weaving and the process requires constant attention and is repetitive and physical - it's a great upper body workout - but it can be very meditative once you get into a groove and it is incredibly satisfying watching single strands of thread turn into solid fabric right before your eyes!
The panels come together from single strands to woven fabric
Did you listen to or watch anything while you worked on this piece?
The upside of the labour intensive nature of hand weaving is that it gives you loads of time to listen to music, podcasts or binge-watch netflix while you work!
Its always interesting to see how the aesthetics of what you're inputting affects the output of your work, over the course of this project I chewed through American Horror Coven and the second season of Glow, while Kendrik Lamar, Childish Gambino and Erykah Badu were on heavy rotation. I'll leave it up to you guys to decipher where this playlist came out in the weaving!
What's your next creative project?
Its funny I'd planned on a quite year of making for 2018, but so far it's been hectic! As far as new creative projects I'm currently sampling new ideas for next winters production range, slowly developing a collection of large scale woven paintings for an exhibition in late 2019, and preparing textile dyeing and print workshops for emerging fashion designers in Fiji later this year. I've also been lucky enough to score a dream commission with The Johnson Collection House Museum, which i'm working on now which is super exciting.
Beck’s custom piece for Obus (pictured above) is on display at Shop 5, Cathedral Arcade, 37 Swanston St, Melbourne (just off Flinders Lane) now. See more of Beck's work at Handmadelife and more from the Craft Cubed Festival at Craft Victoria.
Each Obus print since the brand began in 1998 is a product of Obus founder and creative director Kylie Zerbst's hand. So after twenty years, what has Kylie learned about the world of textile patterns? Here, she shares her top five tips for creating a killer fashion textile design.
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Consider the fabric
Across our collections, our original prints are often spread across our favourite fabrics - cotton jersey, viscose, bamboo/cotton, and linen. Choosing which print will work with which fabric is quite a considered part of the design process. Geometric designs and bold colours really ‘pop’ on jersey - TWO WORLDS is a great example of this - while the drape of Viscose only suits certain textile designs. Because we have moved towards digital printing for most of our textile designs - a method that is more environmentally friendly than screen printing - there is no limit to the colours we can use. However, a more textural fibre such a linen will suit a pattern that can mask or work with the natural slubs present in the fabric. It’s a big puzzle and the first challenge in designing a collection!
Play with scale
When designing a print for Obus, I spend quite a bit of time playing with scale. I love to make the features of a print really big - TELL ME A STORY is a good example of this. With a large scale print, it’s highly likely your Obus garment is completely unique, because every piece is cut from the fabric in a different place. Having said that, sometimes a smaller more detailed print can work just as well. WANDERER, a print that has undergone a few evolutions over our 20-year history, is a good example. Bigger is not always better (but it usually is ;))
Colour can make or break a print
Colour is a huge feature of our collections, and often I’ll review multiple colour options for a single print with my team before making a final decision. After so many years, I believe it’s often the thing that makes or breaks a print. I’m influenced by a range of things when devising the colour combinations across a collection - from current trends, to my own favourite hues… but I always aim for something unexpected. In combination with the textile design and fabric, the colours can really help take a garment to the next level!
Ensure your digital file is technically correct
Sketching, drawing, designing and refining a print concept is the fun part, but getting it onto fabric is quite a technical process! Each fabric and design requires digital artwork files to be set up in different way, and communication with our printers to get the best result is key. Sometimes colours that I see onscreen will look completely different printed on fabric, so the digital file setup has to work in reverse. It can be a headache at times! But when those first samples arrive and the print gets closer to ‘the real thing’, is one of my favourite parts of designing the collection.
Make it personal
There are millions of textile designs out there, but I truly believe the best designs come from the heart. Reviewing the prints I’ve created since Obus began for the LOVE OBUS collection was a moving experience. Each one is imbued with so much of Obus’ life story: the destination it was inspired by; something cultural I was curious about at the time; or even how difficult it was to bring the textile idea to life! Just like art, designing a textile print that relates to something you’ve seen, felt, experienced or are passionate about will always yield the best results. So let your mind wander and see what comes!Shop all the latest Obus prints here. Images feature prints from our upcoming collection, launching soon!
Left-Right: Kylie Zerbst (Obus founder/creative director) and Kerryn Moscicki (Radical Yes founder/creative director)
The Obus x Radical Yes collab has launched, and we're thrilled to partner with this conscious Melbourne brand to bring you a range of comfortable, practical and beautiful statement shoes.
Both Obus and Radical Yes are fiercely independent, female-owned businesses, committed to creating high-quality products that last. Kylie Zerbst, Obus Creative Director, and Kerryn Moscicki, Radical Yes creative director talk about this values-aligned partnership, how their customers influence their designs, and the wardrobe items they keep returning to.
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Tell us about the idea behind this collaboration, and why does it make sense for Radical Yes and Obus to collaborate on this footwear range?
Kylie: Radical Yes had been on our radar for a while as a company committed to the ethics and environmental standards we value in our own business. We also really love their design sensibility and the way that their products transcend current trends. While we have always manufactured the majority of our clothing in Melbourne, it’s increasingly difficult to produce footwear here. We admire Radical Yes's dedication to responsible offshore manufacturing and producing in small quantities, like we do.
"We admire Radical Yes' dedication to responsible offshore manufacturing and producing in small quantities, like we do."
Kerryn: We were so floored when Obus came to us to talk about a footwear collaboration because we have always admired their work. For me personally, I have looked to them as an inspiring example of an iconic, independent Melbourne brand who have been doing their own thing and doing it well for a really long time. We believe our customers have a shared set of values and a similar aesthetic so the idea of using Obus palettes on our silhouettes was a no-brainer.
Kylie: Yes it’s been a dream collab - it doesn’t feel like work when they’ve made the whole process so easy!
Running your own businesses, can you take us through your approach to workwear? What’s essential to you?
Kerryn: Flat shoes! I walk to work and on the way drop my kids at kinder and school, so my workwear garments are very focused on functionality and pragmatism. My outfits tend to be very simple in palette mix - lots of navy, charcoal and camel tones - to help disguise the inevitable kid stains. But then some days I also love to be super comfortable in a vintage oversized knit and denims. The common theme is always a flat shoe.
Kylie: I love colour and pattern. Similar to Kerryn, the Obus studio is local to my neighbourhood and I’m often arriving to work after walking my son to school. For me, I dress to express my personality but also feel comfortable all day. I love accessorising a casual linen or wool pant with a chunky knit, tailored shirt and statement earrings. The clothing we make at Obus has women who want professional and versatile clothing as its primary focus - it’s fun to consider all the combinations an Obus collection can offer for workwear, especially with these shoes in the mix!
"It’s fun to consider all the combinations an Obus collection can offer for workwear, especially with these shoes in the mix!"
What do you think is the edge that small businesses in the fashion landscape have over the big players?
Kerryn: Being truly connected to the customer, having more empathy with their needs and lifestyles rather than pushing product for the sake of meeting 'stakeholder demands'. I believe you can tell when product has lost its purpose and is just filling an 'assortment matrix' to meet stock turn targets. Maybe it’s idealistic, but I believe this is why customers are seeking out and responding to smaller makers who are producing from a place of passion before profits.
Kylie: We’ve always been a small and agile team at Obus, and I think this has helped us weather a few storms over the past 20 years. We can be responsive to trends, to manufacturing snafus, and in communication with our customers. Like Kerryn says, we can also get to know our customers really well - our stores are a mainstay of Melbourne’s inner north, and getting to know our local customers over the years is a bigger part of our overall design process than they probably realise!
Both Obus and Radical Yes create quality products that are designed to transcend seasons and last the test of time. What’s a favourite item in your wardrobe that is still going strong?
Kylie: This Winter I’ve loved my Obus Cocoon coat from a few years ago. It’s a bold lilac purple, collarless cocoon coat and always gets lots of comments!
Kerryn: I have a few key items from our collections over the years. My 'Saturn Returns' trainers in wool lined shearling are a definite go-to in Winter. My 'Little & Often' Day Heels are also an easy slip on that I return to almost daily. They look ace with opaque tights and denims. Can’t wait to wear the new lilac ones Kylie dreamed up for us!
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What do you get when you cross half a dozen glass fishtanks, a whole lot of fresh flowers, and two of Melbourne's most creative women?
The answer is: a stunning lookbook! Obus' creative director Kylie Zerbst was thrilled to collaborate with acclaimed local stylist, Nat Turnbull, to create the stunning imagery for the CRUMPLER X OBUS collection.
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Each shot was meticulously styled using Nat's tricks of trade! Photography was in the capable hands of Scott Newett at Cubed Studio.
The character, style and quality of our new FUYUKO COAT is matched only by that of its very talented maker, Mark.
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Based in Melbourne's inner western suburbs, Mark's workshop is a hive of activity and houses some seriously cool industrial sewing machines. Mark has been specialising in high-end coat production for many years, and has a long history manufacturing for Obus. With his acute attention to detail and a love of all things classic (especially music!), it's no wonder we love having him make our clothes! Shop the FUYUKO COAT here.
When he's not making some of the most beautiful, considered coats around, Mark is a performer who travels all over Australia with his show that celebrates the music of Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley (insert cool shades emoji here).
By now we’re sure you know that Obus makes over 80% of our clothing right here in Australia. But the making is only part of the equation. Ensuring that each part of the supply chain aligns with our ethical and environmental values is important to us too!
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Last year, we shared this post about our Merino Travellers. This year, as we continue to improve our manufacturing process and share it with you, we worked with a local business to mill and dye the Merino we use in our winter Traveller range.
Join us in a virtual tour of the Melbourne factory who process our Woolmark-certified Merino fabric and dye it in our delicious custom Obus colours.
The factory, located in an outer suburb of Melbourne, are an industry leader committed to low-impact high-quality Merino wool processing and dyeing. They LOVE Merino, and as Australia is the world’s biggest producer of fine Merino, they work closely with farmers to source the best quality fibres that tick the social, ethical and environmental demands we - as a business and as customers - put on them.
Employing around 65 locals, the factory believes that environment does not have to be sacrificed for quality. They strive to continually lower the impact normally associated with textile production. They even have an on-site water treatment plant, where a staggering 85% of the water used in the manufacturing is able to be reused!
When the milling and dyeing is complete, our Merino is cut and sewn by our local makers into our tried and true TRAVELLER silhouettes, before joining other new arrivals on the shop floor. So by choosing Obus for your winter Merino layers, you’re choosing to support local makers and manufacturers - and low environmental impact - through and through!Shop all our Melbourne-made Travellers here.
While many of the silhouettes from our Way of Flowers collection have been influenced by 1970s shapes and colours, our UME BLOUSE has one of the most interesting backstories.
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Made from Tencel, our UME BLOUSE is a long-sleeve, button-up shirt with a pussy bow collar. This classic style is a staple item in many wardrobes. But have you ever wondered: why ‘pussy bow’?
One of the earliest appearances of the term is from the 1930s, connecting the feature to the kind of bow tied to the necks of actual cats and kittens as an identifier (!). But thanks to trailblazers such as YSL and Coco Chanel, in the 1960s this floppy neck tie started to take on a new life as strong, independent women began to own the look (hello, Sofia Loren, Grace Kelly, and Peggy & Joan from Mad Men!).
Throughout the 1980s, when women started to assert themselves at work - and in particular the board room - the ‘power-dressing’ pussy bow (combined with those ever-present shoulder pads!) was the equivalent to the male shirt and tie.
More recently, the pussy bow has had a resurgence and become a symbol of alliance with women at the forefront of media politics around the world. Sara Danius, literary scholar and head of the Swedish Academy, often wore the pussy bow as part of her ‘work uniform’. When she was unceremoniously ousted from the Academy after it was engulfed in a #metoo scandal, women across the country began sporting the look as a solidarity move. And who could forget those pussy remarks in 2016, the ones that sparked so many protests around the world? Is Melania sending a message? I guess we’ll have to wait for a tell-all memoir...
So when you take your Obus UME BLOUSE out on the town, don’t forget that you’re standing with generations of women before you. Wear it with pride, and know it will never go out of style.
Like all our prints, Kado was developed by our fearless leader (founder and creative director), Kylie Zerbst, as part of our most recent collection, Way of Flowers.
Inspired by crysanthemum flowers and contemporary ikebana, Kado is accented with mauve, burgundy, and potent orange accents - A true Obus classic.
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Shop all KADO styles - including our CRUMPLER X OBUS accessories collection now!
Obus is doing something a bit different for Mother's Day this year! We're facilitating donations of much-needed clothing, food, vitamins, and educational resources to be sent to the women and children being detained on the island of Nauru.
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It’s a cause the whole team at Obus are passionate about. As a business, we regularly support social enterprises and initiate fundraising campaigns, mobilising our community of kind-hearted customers and followers. In partnering with We Care Nauru and Gifts for Manus & Nauru, we hope to make Mother's Day a bit brighter for these families.
Images from We Care Nauru used with permission.